Honorio Banario became the inaugural ONE FC World Featherweight Champion when he stopped fellow Filipino Eric Kelly in front of 11,006 fans at Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb. 2, 2013.
Banario's striking was superior throughout the fight with Kelly unable to secure the takedown he required to sink in a trademark submission. It was an unusually hesitant performance from the URCC Featherweight Champion who revealed afterwards that he had considered pulling out of the fight after suffering a serious leg injury in training last week.
Banario is the URCC lightweight champion and took several attempts to make the 145 lbs limit but he showed no ill effects. Both men seemed to be conserving themselves for the championship rounds but the fight finished abruptly in round four when a left hook from Banario left Kelly unable to see out of his right eye.
It was the same eye which had swelled shut in Kelly's last fight and afterwards his manager revealed that he had been so determined to win the belt that he had defied doctor's advice in order to take the fight with Banario which might account for his uncharacteristic reluctance to engage.
With the win Banario improves his record to 8-1 and is looking forward to defending the belt in Manila later this year,
"To be ONE FC champion is a big honour for me, I was very confident tonight and I always believed I could beat Eric. I am happy and proud to be the first Filipino world champion and I hope to defend the belt in Manila, I am ready to fight any opponent the ONE FC chooses for me."
The two top Malaysian fighters at present improved their chances of challenging for ONE FC belts with first round stoppage wins over Indonesian opponents. Welterweight Adam Kayoom took Zuli Silawanto down early and was ruthless in working his way from half mount to side control before taking his opponent's back and finishing the fight with a rear naked choke.
Peter Davis wanted to keep things standing in his lightweight matchup with Leo Krishna but was taken down immediately. The Malaysian model and actor showed that he is comfortable on the ground by staying busy from bottom position with punches, elbows and heel strikes.
Krishna is primarily a grappler but Davis was able to reverse the position and inflict some more ground and pound damage before the referee stopped the contest to allow the doctor to take a look at a cut on the Indonesian's face caused by one of the heel kicks.
Once the doctor was inside the cage the extent of the damage was revealed with Krishna's upper lip partly detached and the fight was halted with Davis, who also suffered a cut to his heel, declared the winner by TKO. It was his third win for ONE FC but he said afterwards he feels he is still a win or two away from a title shot.
In the co-main event Rey Docyogen showed that he could cut it as a flyweight by controlling the striking exchanges against Shinichi Kojima, landing vicious inside leg kicks over and over again. The Filipino also demonstrated good takedown defence but the Japanese veteran showed all his experience to jump guard and slap in a second round guillotine forcing the URCC pinweight champion to tap.
Lowen Tynanes is coming off a career defining victory over Eduard Folayang and he won his third consecutive fight in Asia with a rear naked choke win over Vuyisile Colossa. The South African Muay Thai specialist landed strikes throughout the fight but was unable to stuff his opponent's takedowns and finally succumbed to the submission late in the final round.
The Malaysian Featherweight Tournament Final will be contested between Jian Kai Chee and Melvin Yeoh after the former won a close decision victory over AJ Mansour and the latter submitted Raymond Tiew with a second round triangle choke.
ONE FC: 'Return of Warriors, Stadium Putra, Kuala Lumpur, February 2nd
Eric Kelly vs Honorio Banario Banario wins by KO (round three)
Rey Docyogen vs Shinichi Kojima Kojima wins by submission (guillotine choke) round two
Vuyisile Colossa vs Lowen Tynanes Tynanes wins by submission (rear naked choke) round three
Leo Krishna vs Peter Davis Davis wins by TKO (cut) round one
Adam Kayoom vs Zuli Silawanto Kayoom wins by submission (rear naked choke) round one
Mohd Fouzien vs Thanh Vu Thanh wins by TKO (strikes) round one
Melvin Yeoh vs Raymond Tiew Yeoh wins by submission (triangle choke) round two
Jian Kai Chee vs AJ Mansour Kai wins by unanimous decision
Gianni Subba vs Saiful Merican Subba wins by submission (armbar) round two
Jake Butler vs Antoni Romulo Butler wins by TKO (strikes) round one